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May 25, 2022

1/13/2022 11:03:00 AM
Build Back Better Plan is a safeguard for America's future

Dear Editor;
The American Society of Civil Engineers heralded President Biden's Nov. 15 signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as "a historic bipartisan achievement that represents the largest investment in our nation's critical infrastructure in a generation or more." The organization's praise for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is not surprising, as it estimated the U.S. infrastructure investment deficit to be $2.59 trillion over 10 years. According to the ASCE:
"Poor roads and airports mean travel times increase. An aging electric grid and inadequate water distribution make utilities unreliable. Problems like these translate into higher costs for businesses to manufacture and distribute goods and provide services. These higher costs, in turn, get passed along to workers and families."
The IIJA's designation of $47 billion for climate resilience, including flood control, has been called transformational. To quote Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), coauthor of the bill's climate adaptation provisions:
"There's people living in Livingston Parish, for example, flooded in 2016, whose lives - everything in their life was destroyed. The pictures of their children, the wedding dress in which they married, the home in which they lived, which had never flooded before - the fact that we are helping our fellow Americans avoid that gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change views funding for climate resilience as an investment in avoided costs. According to Brian O'Callaghan, coauthor of the United Nations Adaptation Gap report: "Investing in climate adaptation is a bit like getting insurance for a known event. We pay $1 today to save ourselves $10 tomorrow."
While the bipartisan infrastructure law provides protection for our communities, ports and roads from climate hazards, the Build Back Better Act, which is being considered in the Senate, would spend over $500 billion on clean energy projects and incentives to reduce emissions and avoid worst-case climate scenarios.
Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and the more of it we emit, the more severe the impacts will become. The 2019 report, A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change, warns:
"It cannot be assumed that the U.S. will naturally adapt to the security risks of climate change in the future. The President has a responsibility to protect our national security from future climate threats by ensuring they never come to pass."
The foresight demonstrated by the climate provisions of the Build Back Better agenda is refreshing in a time often characterized by a short-termism that is penny wise, but pound foolish.
Terry Hansen
Hales Corners, WI





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